Peggy J. Miller is a professor of speech communication and psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work addresses the problem of socialization, highlighting that moment early in life when children enter into meaning. Miller believes that everyday talk holds the key to socialization. Her recent work has focused on the small, virtually invisible stories of personal experience that occur in many homes. She has found that the period from age two to three is a time of intense initiation into narrative and that personal storytelling is already culturally differentiated, serving as a powerful medium of socialization.
At Radcliffe, Miller will examine self-esteem as a cultural ideal and a childrearing goal embedded in a particular discourse that circulates widely in contemporary American society. She will draw on an ethnographic study of diverse parents in one midwestern town, supplemented by comparative research in Taiwan, to identify the variety of meanings and practices associated with self-esteem and to envision how parents and children create an early moment of self-enhancement.
Miller received her PhD from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her books include “Raise Up a Child”: Human Development in an African-American Family (Lyceum Books, 2003), with Edith V. P. Hudley and Wendy Haight, and Amy, Wendy, and Beth: Learning Language in South Baltimore (University of Texas Press, 1982). She was a fellow at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities in 2005–2006.